Sunday, September 17, 2017

Food and flowers for grief and joy

What a fortnight it's been. I have met new babies, sent my own baby to daycare for the first time, celebrated an engagement and farewelled a friend's father, taken before his time.

Over the last three years I have seen life's book ends first hand with the birth of my twins in 2014, the untimely passing of my own father in 2016 and the arrival of our third baby at the beginning of this year.

When Dad died close friends and kind acquaintances alike came forward with baked goods, casseroles and flowers. I couldn't help but think back to when the twins were born and I realised that  life begins and ends with food and flowers. And kindness.

It's easy to extend kindness and joy when life begins. Cute baby presents and cheerful flowers. But when life ends there can be an awkwardness surrounding what to do and say.

Most of my friends are in their mid to late thirties and too many of us have already lost a parent. Some of them have lost siblings and others have seen children, nieces and nephews battle serious illness.

When anyone you know experiences these heartbreaking life events, don't be awkward. Just remember: kindness.

Send flowers if you like. Or a plant if you know it won't burden the recipient. I'm a big fan of plants and take comfort in caring for those I received last year after dad's passing, but not everyone's life's circumstances suit plants. I was immensely touched by those who went to the expense to send flowers or the effort to cook, but a simple phone call is just as powerful. Don't know what to say? Well say that.  "I don't know what to say but I am thinking of you", or "there is nothing I can say to fix this but please know I'm here." It need not be a long conversation and chances are your friend may not pick up the phone. But they will know that you care. And trust me, it means a lot.

Have you experienced loss? What did you find comforting and/or useful?
Do you have a go-to gesture that you call upon when friend's experience heartache?

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